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Claire

Great post, Lance. I'm inclined to agree with your assessment. :)

Falstaff

Not to throw up a "me too" post, but like Claire, I agree with you. Plus, also like Claire, I think this post is great.

I was thinking about something tonight. A friend linked me to one of those Obama photo collages that must be making the rounds -- a huge one somewhere on Livejournal -- and I remarked to my wife how clear it is, when you see all these pictures of him in the same place, that he's focused on people.

He's always, in the public and publicly-private (as it were) moments that we've seen in this campaign, looking directly at or speaking to or being with another person. I think that sort of speaks to what you say at the end of your post, Lance.

I don't know. I feel incredibly hopeful about America for the first time in my adult life. I think that that flip remark someone in the Bush team made about eight years ago, that the grownups were back in charge, is about to be fulfilled.

Apostate

Every time I think of Emanuel, I can't go beyond how fucking sexy he is.

Kathleen

Forgive how pretentious this sounds, Lance, but it has always resonated with me. In Plato's "Republic" (I warned you--pretentious), Socrates suggests that whoever least wants to lead the country should be the leader. He was referring of course to whomever least wants the job from a pool of Greek senators or statesmen. Men being right; women being required for procreation and more's the pity.
His point, in any case, was that perhaps the best public leader would be someone like Obama: "a reluctant public figure, you said.

Rana

I can't tell you how much this comment amuses and excites me:

"What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

Finally! A leader who gets it!

I read your assessment last night, Lance, and thought it agreed with my gut assessment of the man as an introvert in an extrovert's profession. But you said it better!

Ken Muldrew

What a lovely post. I really liked the part about play-acting and projecting a persona. I remember a few years back when I had made a mistake during a lecture that I was giving, I apologized profusely and went back over everything to make sure that I had it right before the lecture ended, but I just felt awful about it for weeks (it was a big mistake, obviously one makes trivial errors all the time, but this was something that only a beginner should have gotten wrong). A friend, who, unlike me, is a magnificent teacher, couldn't understand why it upset me. After talking about it for a while, he discovered that I didn't have a "character" that I went into while teaching, and this shocked him.

"My God, you can't expose yourself in front of people like that? What on earth are you thinking?"

I can see, intellectually, how it would be a lot easier to have this play-acting persona that could be endowed with confidence and flair and whatever else one admired in a public speaker, but I just have no idea of how to do it. Lucky for me that students are so generous as an audience. If I had to address a political crowd, I think my charred remains would be swept off the stage after a few minutes.

Obama's public persona seems to come through his voice, at least to me. Where you talk about him as a stone with water washing past, and over him, I see the metaphor visually, as if there are distortions and interruptions in the image of Obama that reaches my eyes, but his voice is never hidden, never anything but pitch-perfect and as clear as if he has become the still small voice within. Seeing him, I feel little or no connection to the man, but when he speaks, the connection is immediate and very, very old.

I haven't studied American presidents very much, but the only one I really identify with is Jefferson. Part of that is probably the "tinkering in his study" aspect of his character, and the rest is likely a self-indulgent identification with smart people (delusional though it may be).

rmhitchens

I think you've nailed it. Back in the spring I had dinner with an old friend, a lawyer, longtime Democratic activist & onetime congressional candidate (lost but did well in a strong GOP district outside Detroit). We both held the same view of Obama -- his progressive idealism is certainly genuine, but he has ice water in his veins. And man, isn't that just what we need?

Linkmeister

Not entirely cold-blooded. That's a picture of Obama during a speech the day he got word his grandmother died.

actor212

Lance,

Keep in mind that Obama has won the largest plurality of any first term President in absolute votes and the largest percentage victory of any first term President since FDR.

FDR was hated by many of his supporters before his first term was up. (Un)Fortunately, we were in WWII by then so enough of them didn't want to change horses in midstream. He managed to do what he needed to do.

I'm fairly confident Obama can at least win a second term despite the staggering tasks ahead, and I think with his version of the Fireside Chat, he'll get us to pull together.

What he has going against him is, he can't just start a war to grow us out of depression. He's got two already. If there's a hiccup in his plans, it's that he doesn't have that to fall back on if all else fails (and make no mistake: he's a savvy enough pol to know he would have had that option if available and to use it).

I think he can pull this off, and in so doing, define himself and this nation for the 21st Century.

I hope.

Scout

I gotta agree with Apostate - Rahm is one sexy dude. I kinda like the fact that Pres O picked a badass like him. No beanbag - we got work to do.

Gray Lensman

Just as Biden complements the Prez as the Big Smile, Rahm is the Enforcer who kicks ass and takes names, literally.

ptw

Perhaps the aloofness is due to the fact that he lives in no man's land, which is particular to bi- and multi-racial individuals, more so to biracial. As well biracial individuals would develop a strong ability to introspect as the 'other' is embedded within their own persona. There would be a sensitivity there that could serve him well in this new endeavour of his.

John

Actor 212 - Eisenhower won by nearly 11 points in 1952; Reagan won by nearly 10 in 1980. Bush won by 7.8 points in 1988. That's all better than Obama. Since FDR, Obama does beat Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Clinton, and Bush II, though.

actor212

John,

True, Eisenhower's 57% does rival FDR, but Reagan only garnered 50.7% of the vote compared to Obama's 52%+, and Bush the Elder doesn't count as he was an incumbent VP (I probably should have been clearer in my characterizations).

Dumb Ox

Lance, I think the following picture summarizes your point about Vice President-elect rather well.
http://flickr.com/photos/barackobamadotcom/3009094810/sizes/o/in/set-72157608716313371/

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